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Best Antennas for LTE-only Fixed Wireless Access

Best Antennas for LTE-only Fixed Wireless Access

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min read

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Quick Summary

Finding the right antenna for a fixed wireless access job is half the battle. We help you to decide on the best Poynting LTE antenna given your use case.

Introduction

If you need an antenna for a fixed wireless access deployment, Poynting should be the company you look to. With world-class quality control via rigorous testing, best-in-class performance and low total cost of ownership, Poynting antennas work from multiple angles to improve the bottom line and reputation of network installers.

With the number of models available, you might be wondering what your best options are depending on the specifics of the application. That’s what we’ll be breaking down in this article. The first question you can ask yourself is whether or not your deployment is in a rural or urban location. From there, we can drill down further to uncover the best antenna solution for you.

Fixed Wireless Access Antennas for Rural Areas

Looking to rural applications first, the most common issues here are usually that the site location is frequently far from the base station. If you can see the base station as a result of flat land and few obstructions, then you have line of sight (LOS) to the base station. Determining whether or not you can see the base station from your mounting location is the first step in determining the type of antenna you’ll need. For rural applications, antennas should always be mounted outside and high up. Remember, also, that you’ll need to point a directional antenna at a base station on which your cellular network provider operates. If your provider doesn’t operate on the mast, then pointing your antenna at it won’t do any good. Use a tool like Cell Mapper to identify on which masts in your area your provider operates on.

With Line of Sight to the Base Station

First, we’ll assume that you have LOS to the base station.

If you need 5G connectivity, your best option is Poynting's XPOL-2-5G. With its small form-factor, it has less range than a hyper-directional, yagi-style antenna, but will still outperform many other antennas in its class. In fact, this lack of hyper-directionality makes the antenna easier to install. Poynting’s XPOL-2-5G has great performance on the 3.4-3.8GHz frequency band, meaning it’s 5G ready for whenever these frequencies begin being used in your region.

If you don’t need 5G coverage, you can save yourself some cash by opting for the XPOL-002. In doing so, you give up on some gain in the 690-2170MHz bands. Both the XPOL-002 and the XPOL-2-5G are MIMO antennas, meaning you’ll need an LTE router with multiple SMA inputs in order to make use of them. For high-quality SISO antennas, you’ll have to look elsewhere for Poynting’s LPDA-92, which requires precision installation.

poynting-xpol-2-5g-directional-mimo-antenna

Poynting's XPOL-2-5G antennas are easy-to-install, effective directional antennas perfect for rural fixed wireless access applications.

Without Line of Sight to the Base Station

If you can’t see your local base station from your planned installation point, then you’ll need to go with an omnidirectional solution.

The best MIMO solution here is to go with two of Poynting's OMNI 292s, spaced at least 60cm apart both horizontally and, if possible, vertically. These have particularly great performance on the lower frequencies at 690-960MHz, a frequency particularly important for rural areas since lower frequency RF signals can travel further. The OMNI 292s do not come with cables, but Poynting recommends the CAB -42/49 cables for these antennas. If the environment is particularly humid, the OMNI 291s have better weather protection, so will serve you better albeit at higher cost. Two antennas will net you a 2x2 MIMO array configuration. For more antennas, simply increase the number of OMNI 292 units in the array.

If setting up a 2x2 MIMO array is too difficult, not appropriate for your installation, or if you need a 5G-ready solution, look to the OMNI 600. You’ll see an overall drop in gain across all working frequencies, as well as seeing an overall drop-off in performance as a result of the lack of spatial diversity provided by multiple, spaced OMNI 292s. However, you’ll still net yourself 2x2 MIMO LTE, this time with a single unit. Again, if you need better weather protection against humidity, you can opt for the more expensive OMNI 402 instead, which has superior IP ratings and weatherproofing.

If you need something cheaper and your requirements performance-wise aren’t that great, then the Poynting XPOL-0001 might just do the trick for you. Easy to install, the XPOL-0001 comes in two variants: the original and the V2. The original has better performance overall on the lower frequencies across the 690-960MHz band (again, an important frequency for rural applications). The XPOL-0001-V2-21/41 outperforms the original in all other areas, though, so if you think these lower frequencies aren’t as important for your application, go with one of these options instead.

All of the above are MIMO solutions. If your router only has a single input, then you’ll need a SISO solution. Your best bet here is a single Omni 292, simply doing without the additional unit and, as a result, the performance gains that result from the added spatial diversity. Again, you’ll need a CAB -42/49 cable for the antenna and, if you’re looking for an antenna that does 5G, you’ll want to opt instead for a single Omni 291. You’ll once again experience the same overall drop in gain across all frequencies, as well as a drop in performance across the 690-960MHz band, important for rural applications.

poynting-omni-292-antenna

Two Poynting Omni 292 antennas can be combined into a highly effective 2x2 Mimo array.

Fixed Wireless Access Antennas for Urban Areas

Where Mounting Outside Is Possible

As with rural applications, it’s always best if you can install your antenna(s) outside and if they have MIMO. Urban deployments come with their difficulties, though, such as restrictions on mounting outside and space being at a premium. Luckily, urban areas have higher cell mast density than rural areas, meaning your antennas can take advantage of carrier aggregation to still bring in a great signal, even with a less-than-ideal mounting configuration.

Directionality is far less important in urban applications, since base stations are more common, while frequent obstructions make establishing LOS impossible most of the time. This means we’ll again be opting for omnidirectional antennas.

If you can mount outside, once again your best option is 2 x OMNI 292s spaced 60cm apart (at a minimum) horizontally and, if possible, vertically as well. Pair these with two CAB -42/49 cables. Otherwise, the XPOL-1-5G will serve you well. As a single-unit 2x2 MIMO LTE antenna, it will be easier to install than the pair of OMNI 292s. Like all Poynting antennas, it comes with a wide variety of mounting options, giving you the tools you need to work around any possible restrictions. If you need 4x4 MIMO rather than 2x2, you’re better off with the XPOL-0001-V2-41, which will provide 4x4 MIMO from a single unit though, again, you’ll need an LTE router with enough connectors to support the additional outputs.

poynting-xpol-1-5g-omni-lte-mimo-2-x-2-antenna

Poynting's XPOL-1-5G omnidirectional antenna is small in form-factor, allowing it to be mounted indoors. Perfect for urban applications where space is at a premium.

Where You Must Mount Inside

If you have to mount your LTE antenna inside, the XPOL-1-5G will still serve you very well. Relatively compact in form-factor and with a window-mounting option, you’ll be able to literally stick the antenna to your window with the included suction cups. This way, you have the fewest possible obstructions between your antenna and the signals it’s receiving.

Where a SISO solution is required, the PUCK-1 is a great option as a second. choice. Highly compact in form-factor and well-performing across the 1710-3800MHz frequency band, this antenna is still highly appropriate as a fixed wireless access solution for urban areas where the antenna must be situated indoors. Due to its smaller size versus the XPOL-1-5G, as well as its lack of MIMO, you will necessarily experience an overall drop-off in performance with this antenna versus the XPOL-1-5G.

Conclusion

For those who need a fixed wireless access solution, finding the right antenna for the job is half the battle. By choosing Poynting, you’re well on your way to finding that best solution and, now that you’re familiar with the best of their products for different use cases, it should be much easier to perfect the configurations you’re installing for your clients.

At NetXL, you get bulk discounts on all of our products on top of already great pricing. What’s more, with a 7 pm cutoff for next-day delivery, you never have to rush to get your orders placed with us; you can trust the equipment you need to turn up ready to work when you are.

Best Antennas for LTE-only Fixed Wireless Access